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The locality that almost has it all

Deccanherald.com - 14 November, 2014

TECH HUB: ITPL, WhitefieldWhitefield, besides being the IT hub, has witnessed immense infrastructure growth, further strengthening its position as one of the most sought-after residential areas in Bengaluru, observes Bindu Gopal Rao.

Once upon a time, that is, until the 2000s, Whitefield was just another 'outskirts' area in Bengaluru, barely recognised as a locality. Today, it has turned into a burgeoning self-sustaining micro-market, and is one of the most sought-after real estate localities in the country. 

The Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPIP) at Whitefield is one of the country's first information technology parks, under International Tech Park, Bengaluru (ITPB), which houses offices of many IT and ITES companies.

"Over the last five years, Whitefield has witnessed the growth of strong social infrastructure like the development of shopping malls, hospitals and educational institutions, further strengthening its position as one of the most self-sustained and sought-after residential areas in the city," opines Irfan Razack, chairman and managing director, Prestige Group. He adds that the locality currently offers generous living spaces at comparatively affordable prices thus making it more attractive to homebuyers.

 "It has emerged as a satellite city of Bengaluru where one can live, work and play without having to come into the CBD area of the city for anything." "Over the next 24 months, it will be excellently connected to other key parts of the city by the 'Namma Metro', making Whitefield a highly desirable location in all respects," predicts Juggy Marwaha, managing director - South, JLL India. 

The cut down on travel time for the professionals working in the area and a host of choices from villas to gated communities to luxury apartments are the major contributing factors that work for Whitefield. Many MNCs and Indian corporates have their large development and R&D centres here, and then, there's EPIP, ITPL and numerous other private software technology and research parks. The place provides over 4,00,000 jobs, mostly to techies. 

Syed Mohamed Beary, chairman and managing director, Bearys Group, says, "Whitefield has, in its midst, a railway station, a TTMC, power sub-stations, warehousing and custom-bonded stores, and good communication and data transfer infrastructure. 

It has ample number of shopping malls, petty shops, multiplexes, eateries, serviced apartments, business and luxury hotels. The place has numerous international schools and institutions for higher education. Add to this, small PGs and over 80,000 apartments have come up during the last ten years, making it a complete and attractive package for residence." 

Empirical evidence suggests that whitefield has been seeing consistent annualised appreciation of about 11-14 per cent on investment in the real estate sector; it is even higher in the case of select projects with superior specifications and amenities. 

Quite evidently, this locality is one of the most preferred residential (including rental) destinations for the cosmopolitan work force in Bengaluru. Currently, there are nearly 90 residential projects consisting a total of about 25,000 residential units in various stages of construction in Whitefield. Whilst seven percent of the residential units are villas or row-houses, the rest are apartments. Nearly 64 per cent of the under-construction residential units belong to the mid-end segment, 19 per cent belong to the high-end and luxury segments and the rest are in the affordable segment. 

There are close to 700 industries including malls, IT Parks, educational institutions and residential communities that are present in this area, and the buying values and rental rates are accordingly set. "In Whitefield, the capital values for high-end residential segment are around Rs 6,500-10,000 and Rs 4,000-5,500 for the mid-segment. Rental values for high-end apartments or villas ranges between Rs 1,00,000-3,75,000 per month, and Rs 25,000-40,000 per month for mid-range residences.

 The mid-end capital and rental values are lower than the rest of the city," says Naveen Nandwani, executive director, Cushman & Wakefield. 

Whitefield is also well-served by road infrastructure such as Outer Ring Road (ORR) and ITPL Main Road, Old Airport-Varthur Road and Whitefield Main Road. "The land use proposal along the ORR and Whitefield Road seeks to encourage development along this belt with high floor area ratio (FAR). IT special economic zones (SEZs) spanning over 254 acres has been planned at Hoodi village in Whitefield, Bagur village in Hoskote taluk, and, Devarabeesanahalli, Boganahalli and Bellandur in Varthur," informs Sumit Jain, co-founder and CEO, CommonFloor.com Says Gaurav Apte, resident manager, Bengaluru Marriott Whitefield Hotel, "The much anticipated Namma Metro project is expected to cater to Whitefield under Phase 2. The Purple Line will be extended from Byappanahalli to Whitefield covering 13 stations in between. There will also be two major hotels coming up in the next couple of years - Sheraton Prestige Shantiniketan and Dan Hospitality." 

The Bengaluru Master Plan 2015 has marked the Planning District of Whitefield as a priority area for IT-related activities mixed with residential development. Shankar Sastri, director, Sterling – Gera Residences Pvt. Ltd. adds, "A very strong recommendation is that of shuttle services to and within Whitefield. This will reduce not only the traffic congestion, but also the travel time. It is easier for the techies to take a comfortable air-conditioned ride to work everyday."

 While it might be a happening hub right now, Whitefield suffers from water shortage, for that very reason, especially during summer months, as the whole region relies almost entirely on groundwater. With increase in housing and office space, the demand has been multiplying over the years and groundwater depletion has been worsening at an alarming rate.

 "Residents are now forced to be dependent on water tankers to supply water during summers. The consumption of groundwater by real estate developers to build state-of-the-art office spaces has also affected the buyer sentiments," rues Ganesh Vasudevan, CEO, IndiaProperty. com.

Another issue is that of widening of roads. Land acquisition and the muck it creates takes years to complete such public works. Also, there is a dire need for BBMP to become more active in garbage collection, covering open sewage drains and repairing and clearing footpaths. 

Yet another major issue in this locality, as with the rest of the city, is that whilst the metro connectivity is underway and will, hopefully, ease the pressure on traffic, the slow pace of construction is a cause of worry, especially when there is traffic congestion during peak hours that is becoming intolerable.

 Informs Vivek Jala, general manager - valuation and advisory services, Colliers Inter-national, "Recently the residents of Whitefield filed a petition with the Railways, to make Whitefield Railway Station commuter-friendly by making all trains stop there." 

While all may not be well, the relentless rush for properties in Whitefield, nevertheless, continues unabated, ensuring its viability as one of Bengaluru's hottest real estate investment destinations.

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